Surviving Life 101: Rolling with the Punches (Even the Cheap Shots)

Life is weird.

Sometimes it’s so unbelievably beautiful. Like, “pinch me, I’m dreaming” amazing.

And others it’s downright, well, cruel. Kicking-you-hard-when-you’re-already-down kind of crappy.

And of course, there are all the instances that fall somewhere in between those extremes.

I’d be lying if I said the last couple months weren’t full of incredible moments. We spent time with so many loved ones, we visited freaking Disneyland, we got a much needed second car, and moved into a new home. But I also wouldn’t be completely honest if I said they weren’t without their pitfalls as well. And here recently, times have been especially trying – and in quick succession of one another. Hell, I began penning this post from my husband’s hospital bedside, and that’s just a fraction of the hoops we’ve had to jump through lately. I like to think I’m a fairly positive person; I feel life is far too short to spend it any other way but happy. But just because I try my best to live in that manner doesn’t mean I’m always successful, or that I’m immune to the occasional desire to wallow in self pity, either.

In the heat of that moment, when it seems like you’re collapsing under the weight of all of those surmounting stresses, it’s entirely too easy to want to crumble into a never-ending pity party and stay there. There are times that just giving up actually seems like the more appealing option. That allowing that moment of negativity overshadow any and all positive ones within a 50 mile radius. With enough things going wrong, you may even start discrediting the many things that do go right.

For every lovely time in our life, there is an equal (though it sometimes feels like double or triple) less-than-joyous one to follow suit.

Your car breaks down. You fight with friends and family. You fall ill. You encounter money problems. You have a challenging day/time at work. You didn’t get whatever you’ve been working so hard toward. You lose a possession you love.

And at that time, you feel a wide range of emotions that are far from good; angry, sad, irritated, frustrated, and overwhelmed just to name a few. But even when it doesn’t feel like it, there is something positive to be taken away from these challenges, too:

Even the very worst days of our lives only have 24 hours.

*I can’t be the only one that finds that strangely reassuring, right?*

In a weird way, it’s like they balance each other out. How boring would life be if we always got what we wanted? If things always worked out our way?

One strategy I’ve adapted in recent years is shifting my approach to a crappy hand dealt from immediately panicking and melting down to instead digesting, accepting, then acting accordingly. I’ll be the first to admit it’s taken time to reach this point. I’ve had to work at it – at keeping my emotions under control enough to think rationally before acting (or reacting/overreacting).

Does this mean I don’t allow myself to have the occasional freak out before composing myself and moving forward?

The answer to that one is a resounding hell to the no.

Some emotions are overwhelming and demand to be felt to the fullest of extent. Sometimes being strong all the time gets exhausting. Sometimes we need to release these feelings however we see fit in order to progress forward with a “lighter emotional load” so to speak. This doesn’t imply weakness by any means, either – if anything, it’s probably one of the healthier coping mechanisms I’ve seen these days.

(Side note: This in no capacity condones grown people screaming and crying and acting like toddlers throwing tantrums any time things don’t go their way, either.)

What it does mean is that instead of completely losing my mind over each and every inconvenience, I give myself time to process and come to terms with what’s sent my way before responding accordingly. In other words, I try as rationally as I can to dissect what I’m presented with before countering. When I do have to get any negative energy out, I isolate those feelings to that moment and leave them there so I can progress forward with a clean slate to tackle my problems with. Is my execution of this always perfect? Of course not, but being self-aware of both my previous tendencies as well as what I’m working to implement certainly helps. This allows me to digest calmly (as much as possible) to avoid acting out of sheer emotion; leaving my baggage at the door this way has completely changed my head space and how I approach just about everything I encounter in life.

Life is a wonderful thing, but it can’t be sunshine and rainbows always.

But even when it’s “bad”, it’s so, so good. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.

So take the good with the bad, and the happy with the sad. Don’t let the pits outweigh the peaks. May any breakdowns ultimately become breakthroughs. And never let those down times break you.

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